The magazine of the photo-essay
December 2016 issue
Simply a Line Bulgaria --- Turkey
by Vesselina Nikolaeva
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
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The first time I heard about the Bulgarian-Turkish border was in my last year of high school. The boys in my class were afraid that they would be sent to the army if they did not get accepted at the university. Their worst option was serving as border watchmen; the most macabre border to guard was in the south. I grew up in the north-west of the country, which made the Bulgarian-Turkish border the farthest geographical point for me and elliptic as a symbol. As far as the border may have been, I did inherit an attitude towards the Turkish people different from the one many of our neighbouring nations have. Perhaps, the main reason for this is the complex history our peoples share. As a result of the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1878 the first physical border between the two countries is drowned and with it comes the end of the 482 year Ottoman presence  in Bulgaria. In the 120 years to come, the border shifted five times, with the last correction in 1997, which made it the most dynamic political boundary on the Balkans since its existence. On a psychological level, the collective memory of the Turkish presence has been
passed on from one generation to the next, along with it the distrust and hatred towards our neighbours in the south. That collective frustration was socially acceptable before the fall of Communism. It is now politically incorrect, yet alive even if unspoken, nestling in the mind of most Bulgarians. The Communist party used this conflict in their propaganda, where the southern border embodied the battlefield between Christianity and Islam, good and evil, us and the enemy. After 60 years of media ban, I was the first one to receive permission to photograph the border and began working on the project. I had no preconception about the way it would be, what it would look like, if it would be frightening, what kind of secrets had been kept and guarded there for decades. What we knew was that the Bulgarian-Turkish border was the crossing of illicit narcotics and illegal migration routes between the Midle East and Asia and Europe. We also knew about the corruption at the border checkponts long before the media began the top politics corruption discourse.
Armoury room.
Border guard with a dog.
Border line.
Frontier post.
Georgy Dimitrov.
Information posts.
Old aeroplane.
Old swimming pool.
September 1923.
Sport field.
Wall drawings.
Watch tower.
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